On Thursday 25th May 2023, Rwanda will be rolling out the red carpet, for the first-ever Africa Soft Power Gala & Awards. With sustainability as its theme, this brand-new event seeks to relaunch the modern African narrative on the world stage and is designed to showcase African creativity and innovation at its finest.

According to the event organisers,

“The Africa Soft Power Gala & Awards will provide an original and ambitious take on the continent’s creative output. It will be hosted at a private venue in Kigali, Rwanda. 

Guests – from across Africa and around the world – will be welcomed to an exclusive red-carpet event, complete with canapes and cocktails, professional photographers and photo walls, and pop-up galleries showcasing the latest African art and fashion.

Once the preliminary mingling is done, the focus will shift to a sit-down dinner, complete with music performances, and a short awards ceremony.”


Building Domestic Runways For The Global Skies

The event is the brainchild of the Founder & Creative Director at Africa Soft Power (ASP), Nkiru Balonwu, who wants to reintroduce the still often misunderstood modern-day Africa to the world and ensure that the continent builds its own runways to help domestic creativity take off.  

She said:

We know that we have to engage people on a certain level. There remains a lot of dialogue in the world today, about Africa’s challenges, and rightly so. But there is also a place for connecting with people more equally, showcasing the best and brightest examples of African creativity, innovation, and commercial viability.

This continent has a huge amount to bring to the world and can be an essential part of solving some of the key global intersectional issues of the day. Entering those conversations begins with soft power.


The ASP Gala & Awards event represents the ultimate example of this. While we’re just starting this year, we want to put our marker in the ground and intend to rival something like the Met Gala or Oscars at some point.

We are Africa, this is our thing, these are our strengths and causes for celebration. And so instead of just jumping on planes to New York and LA (which again, is still important), why not establish something of our own in the global cultural calendar and have people fly here instead?

It is an idea that as I say is still very much in its infancy, and making its first outing at the ASP Summit this year, but we want Africa-hosted events like this to become the norm as part of the global mix.


The Summit of African Excellence

The Gala & Awards marks the proverbial crown jewel in an already action-packed Africa Soft Power Summit, taking place in Kigali, Rwanda, from May 23rd – 27th.

The summit at large will incorporate the Creative & Innovative Industries Conference (CII), the inaugural RAW Women’s Leadership Conference, and a whole host of accompanying activities such as drinks receptions, cultural excursions, and trips out to the Basketball Africa League Playoffs, also taking place in Kigali next week. 

Integral to the Gala & Awards, will be the presentation of a series of awards that have been designed to mark excellence in African (and diaspora) creativity and innovation. These will be presented across categories including art, sports, fashion, innovative leadership, and more. 

Balonwu herself was previously CEO of Spinlet, Africa’s first music streaming app, and a platform that under her management grew to an audience of 2m+ users. 

“There is so much talent out there,” Balonwu tells BellaNaija. “Not only in Africa, or even just throughout the diaspora community, but indeed around the world. The creative and digital sectors are really the driving forces behind tomorrow’s economies, and Africa can be – and to an extent today already is – at the forefront of that growth.”

“The ASP Summit at large and in particular the Gala & Awards are designed to provide the ultimate showcase for our women and young people, who will undoubtedly have an increasingly loud voice in the innovations of tomorrow.” 

The theme of sustainability highlights ASP’s commitment to this future outlook. Guests are invited to attend bringing their unique take on sustainable fashion. From recycled garments to ethically-produced goods… the plan is for Africa to lead the way in turning the red carpet green!”

The event looks set to provide a welcome addition to the creative and cultural calendar for Africa and the world. 

Stay tuned to BellaNaija for updates. You can also find further information on the event and the summit here